Feb 12, 2019

Trump and Beto battle over border wall in dueling rallies

Beto O'Rourke and President Trump. Photo: Chip Somodevilla (O'Rourke) and Jabin Botsford (Trump)/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump is kicking off his first campaign rally of the year in El Paso, Texas, Monday night, less than a mile from a Beto O’Rourke rally expected to refute Trump's claims that a wall would be an effective security measure.

What they're saying: During his State of the Union address, Trump said El Paso "used to have extremely high rates of violent crime, one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation's most dangerous cities ... Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities." O'Rourke and other Texas politicians have refuted that, calling "El Paso ... one of the safest communities in the United States before the fence was built here."

Reality check: "Before the border barriers were completed in El Paso, in 2008, the city had the second-lowest violent crime rate among more than 20 similarly sized American cities. In 2010, after the fence construction, it retained its ranking. Also, El Paso was never one of the most dangerous cities in the United States," reported the New York Times.

What to expect:

  • O’Rourke intends to "show the country the reality of the border — a vibrant, safe, bi-national community that proudly celebrates its culture, history, diversity and status as a city of immigrants,” the organizers of the rally told ABC News.
  • Trump campaign officials have said the location of the rally is intended to highlight the border wall's usefulness.

The big picture: Both Trump and O'Rourke have called each other out publicly before and in a preview of the rally. O'Rourke has said he "will meet lies and hate with the truth," while Trump called O'Rourke a "Flake!" and "a total lightweight." O'Rourke has long been critical of Trump on issues ranging from immigration to his attitude on Russia.

  • Impeachment: O’Rourke has said on multiple occasions he would vote to impeach Trump.
  • Russian collusion: "To quote George Will — very conservative columnist — when we saw him on that stage in Helsinki defending Vladimir Putin, the head of the country that attacked our democracy in 2016 instead of this country, and its citizens and this amazing democracy, that was collusion in action."
  • Obstruction: "When, by broad daylight on Twitter, he asked his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to end the Russia investigation, I would say that's obstruction in action."
  • Crime and immigrants: O'Rourke has said immigrants in the U.S. "commit crimes at a lower rate than those Americans born here..." refuting Trump's claims that immigrants bring crime and drugs into the U.S. at alarming rates.
  • Border walls: He has criticized Trump's fixation on a physical border wall: "...walls push desperate families to cross in ever more hostile terrain, ensuring greater suffering and death..."
  • Family separation: O'Rourke has criticized Trump's family separation policy: "We can either give into the fear of walls and tear-gassing families with infant children in diapers, we can go back to a policy of taking kids from their parents when they come here ... or we can live up to the best traditions, potential, promise and hope of who we are as Americans. That’s what’s in front of us right now."
  • Asylum seekers: O'Rourke has criticized Trump's interest in closing the southern border and deporting Central Americans seeking asylum in the U.S.: “I think this is a real reckless threat and it is just going to be very harmful to the United States and already is harmful to our competitiveness, to communities like El Paso. I hope that that wiser and cooler heads are going to prevail but there’s no telling with this president.”

One nickname thing: O'Rourke borrowed Trump's nickname for Ted Cruz, O'Rourke's opponent in the 2018 midterms: "Senator Cruz is not going to be honest with you ... He’s dishonest, and it’s why the president called him Lyin’ Ted, and it’s why the nickname stuck — because it’s true."

Go deeper: Beto O'Rourke tells Oprah he'll decide on 2020 run by the end of the month

Go deeper

Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.